The Others In/Of Aristotle’s Poetics

Journal of Philosophical Research 22:245-260 (1997)
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This paper aims at interpreting (primarily) the first six chapters of Aristotle’s Poetics in a way that dissolves many of the scholarly arguments conceming them. It shows that Aristotle frequently identifies the object of his inquiry by opposing it to what is other than it (in several different ways). As a result aporiai arise where there is only supposed to be illuminating exclusion of one sort or another. Two exemplary cases of this in chapters 1-6 are Aristotle’s account of mimesis as other than enunciative speech (speech that makes truth claims, or representation) and his account of the final cause of tragedy in itself as plot, vis a vis its final cause as regards the audience, which is katharsis. Confusions arising from failure to see the otherness of representation and katharsis leads to an overly intellectualist understanding of the purpose of tragedy.

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Gene Fendt
University of Nebraska at Kearney


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